I have a little secret to let you in on… I am Switzerland. Call me vanilla, call me boring, but I generally try to stay neutral on most topics. While I enjoy reading other people’s rants, I rarely engage in them. I however, am married to North Korea. The man loves a good rant and virtually every piece he furnishes me with for the blog has an element of rant-ishness to it. I, of course, edit most of it out. This week’s topic on harvest was strong with the rant, and you know what? I’m going to indulge Derek a little bit and keep some of that controversial stuff in. I do what I can to make him happy during harvest.
“just picked” lot
Instead of knocking everyone over the head with it right away, I’m going to ease into this and leave the good stuff for the end. After just a couple of weeks of harvest, we are already a third of the way done. Due to the extremely dry soil (thank you drought), a reduced fruit load, and numerous mini heat waves where the temperature exceeded 98F, harvest started off two weeks earlier than last year (which was early in itself). Thankfully, the weather has cooled off a bit, slowing things down. Not the ideal situation to have everything come in at once- not only does it create an insane schedule, but it creates the real problem of having enough room to process the fruit and start the fermentations. So far, things are looking good.
Derek is very “hands-on”
Are you ready for the fun stuff? The excessive heat and low humidity we experienced at the beginning of harvest lead to “artificial” sugar increases with high acids/low pH. Some varietals, such as Syrah (one of the varietals we have already picked) as well as the whites handle heat very well and drop their acids with a corresponding increase in sugar and phenolic ripening, but many of the reds do not. This is where you see the advantage of being a boutique winery, with an estate-driven program, with the winemaker also managing the vineyard. Knowing how the vines are handling the heat, watching the sugars and, more importantly, flavors develop allows Derek to make the decision to hold off on picking some varietals, allowing the sugars to drop back down after the heat wave. No panic-picking for Naggiar!
The cap waiting for a punch-down
Now you are in for a treat… I’m going to actually write virtually word for word what Derek had down. No, it’s not at all a way of deflecting liability away from myself, just a way for you to enjoy Derek’s pearls of wisdom as I do…every other week…all year…and Christmas for the family Christmas letter…yeah.
“A winemaker not making estate fruit will look at the numbers, provided by the vineyard manager of let’s say 25.5 brix and a pH of 3.3 and nearly *blank* himself. ‘Those numbers are perfect they shall exclaim.’ No sir, not perfect…misleading. Spend some time in the vineyard, look at the canopy and the berries. Canopy is holding up well, still full and green with nice lignified canes, berries not raisining or only slight raisining, cool-down coming….and it’s only AUGUST 22!!! Most importantly, taste the grapes, crack the seeds in your mouth, chew the skins….is it phenolically ready? No, I don’t think so. Patience….unless you are making a rosé….then pick man, pick. This will be an interesting harvest, it will separate the wheat from the chaff….the good winemakers from those who have no business in this.”
Wheat from the chaff, really? This is just a small sample of what I get to wade through every other week. Amusing? A bit. A little convoluted and hard to follow? I would say so. Derek definitely comes from the stream of consciousness school of writing.
So, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Do you belong in the business or not? Don’t be afraid to ask Derek as he will gladly give you his opinion.[jetpack_subscription_form]